Leopardi and the "Desert of Life"
O'Connor, Desmond John
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The central metaphor used here - that of life as a barren, arid state - recurs frequently throughout Leopardi's work, in both his prose and his poetry, in contexts that describe his own personal condition and/or that of humanity as a whole. The metaphor appears not only in the form of the word 'deserto' (which derives from the Latin verb 'desèrere' 'to abandon', 'to desert') and as analogous images that denote emptiness and aridity, but also where the key element of the metaphor is a word such as 'eremo', 'ermo', or 'romito', which derive from the equivalent Greek word for desert - èremos -, and which therefore extend the metaphor to the deeper meaning of 'loneliness' and 'isolation'.